Authorities in China increased security measures in Xinjiang as the Olympic torch arrived in the predominantly Muslim province on 17 June 2008. Police officers and security personnel were stationed in and around the provincial capital city of Urumqi as the torch left the People’s Square for a three-day relay. Tensions are high in the region because ethnic Muslim Uighur separatist groups have protested the communist Chinese government and called for more autonomy in Xinjiang province. The Chinese government claims to have foiled planned attacks in Xinjiang that would have targeted the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
On 17 June 2008 the Chinese government reported an avian influenza outbreak in ducks in the southern province of Guangdong, adjacent to Hong Kong. In previous weeks all poultry in commercial markets was culled in Hong Kong in order to prevent such an outbreak. Officials indicated that the virus that has afflicted the birds was a subtype of the H5N1 strain. More than 3,000 ducks have died so far from the disease and at least 17,000 have been culled in response to the outbreak. Hong Kong, as part of the contingency plan, has banned all poultry imports from mainland China for a minimum of 21 days. China also reported an outbreak in April in the western region of Tibet. Guangzhou was also affected in March.
On 16 June 2008 authorities in China announced that more than 1 million people have been displaced and many crops destroyed by rising floodwaters in the provinces of Anhui, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunnan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Yunnan and Zhejiang. Several rivers have overflowed after weeks of torrential rainstorms, and forecasters have warned residents in these areas to brace for more heavy rain. Government officials stated that the flooding has killed at least 171 people and thousands of homes and buildings have been inundated with water. Emergency crews have been deployed to reinforce embankments and provide aid in the hardest hit areas.